posted on Apr, 24 2004 @ 08:56 PM
U.S. National - AFP
US Postal Service to drop cycling sponsorship
Sat Apr 24, 2:18 PM ET Add U.S. National - AFP to My Yahoo!
WASHINGTON (AFP) - As team leader Lance Armstrong seeks a record-breaking sixth Tour de France victory this year, the US Postal Service pro cycling
team will also be seeking a new sponsor.
AFP/Getty Images/File Photo
The US Postal Service said Friday that it will withdraw its backing at the end of 2004, although it will continue to support riders, including US
cycling icon Armstrong, through this season.
"Its always tough news to hear when your title sponsor decides to pull out," Armstrong said in Dahlonega, Georgia, where he finished the fifth stage
of the Tour of Georgia with the overall lead. "So I have mixed emotions.
"But predominately, I have great memories and great feelings towards them because in 1998, they were the company, the sponsor and the team that
stepped up and gave me a chance to race again when many other teams wouldnt.
"Clearly without them, there wouldnt be one Tour (de France) victory, like Ive said before. Now, this is an interesting time to stop. I think the team
is better than ever. I think we can continue to compete at the top level and win Tours and win big races. But we are confident that we will find
somebody else (as a sponsor). There has already been an effort put in place to find a new title sponsor."
Since 1996, the postal service had been the title sponsor of the USPS Pro-Cycling Team owned and managed by Tailwind Sports.
During that time, Armstrong's success in the Tour de France has raised the profile of the sport in the United States.
In the past eight years, the team has assisted Lance Armstrong in winning five back-to-back Tour de France championships and has been influential in
re-energizing cycling in the United States.
But the government agency has come in for criticism for spending money on the sponsorship, particularly in light of three postal rate increases in
2000 and 2001.
"Any sensible private sector company would have yanked the sponsorship and refocused its resources on its core mission," Leslie Paige of Citizens
Against Government Waste said in a statement on Friday. "Europeans may love Lance Armstrong, but that admiration did not translate into more revenue
for the USPS."
call me old and crotchety, cause i am, but i never did see why the post office ever did sponsor a team that competes mainly in europe, no mention of
how much it costs them.(us) but i think the money can be spent better elsewhere